Wednesday was an eye opening day for several people in the turfgrass industry as West Coast Turf played host to Dr. Ronny Duncan for a workshop on how to grow paspalum at our Scottsdale farm.  He also gave some tips on keeping color and winter hardiness for bermudagrass and St. Augustine.  Many people are still opening up to the idea of growing a different grass than bermuda, but the paspalums is where the turf industry is quickly heading.  

Seashore paspalum (Platinum TE/Sea Spray) is the most salt tolerant of the warm season grass species.  Paspalums provide a homeowner, landscaper, or golf course the much needed flexibility in managing turfgrasses that are exposed to reclaimed water or effluent water, but at the same time provides an optimal turfgrass when using a potable water source. Since there is an increasing demand to limit potable water for landscapes and golf use, the turf industry has longed for a grass that can handle water with varying amounts of salinity and nutrients while maintaining a high quality of turf.  We see this everyday in our parks and golf courses that gradually die out because of the salt load in the water and one of the ways we can minimize problems is by making the proper grass selection.  

 Again paspalums have been bred to tolerate poor water conditions, but they thrive on the clean potable water source that we get as homeowners.  Before I move on and go into some details about paspalum let me highlight the reasons one would select paspalum for use in their lawn in Arizona or California. 

1)       Superb salt tolerance

2)      Uses less nitrogen and water than bermudagrass

3)      Short dormancy period if you don’t overseed.  Dormancy period will be half of the bermudagrass dormancy period. (90-120 days vs. 150-180 days)

4)      Can handle a pH range from 4.5-9.0 (Arizona is typically just under 8.0 meaning the soils are extremely alkaline and the soil needs to be treated regularly to keep damage from bermudagrass.

5)      Handles low boggy areas better than any bermudagrass

6)      Eco friendly grass that loves organic fertilizers

7)      Can be overseeded if desired or left dormant to save more water

Going into Wednesday I would say that less than 1% of his audience knew what the key nutrient is in helping to grow grass, and also how this nutrient makes other nutrients readily available and useable.  I am sure if I posed this question to everyone and asked how you make grass green, the answer would quickly be iron and nitrogen.  While that is true, they are often abused to the point of adding too much.  Because of the lack of calcium and magnesium your turf will turn yellow over time and the root system will not be able to take up many of the other important nutrients required for turf growth. 


Many of us live in the desert southwest and the typical soils are very alkaline with a pH in the range of 7.5-10.2 and these numbers alone make it tough to grow grass, but when you add salinity in water, and the continuous use of unbalanced fertilizers it usually results in a struggling lawn. 


I am going to give some brief tips in today’s blog on things that can be done to help you during the season to stay green and allow you to have a good overseed and transition.  Much of what I am providing is not just tips for paspalum but I am providing important tips on growing your warm season lawn.

 Scottsdale Farm Field Day


Jay Danek talks paspalum

In order to be successful growing a paspalum lawn or turf area you must get a few things under control and these would be 1) opening your mind up to change in your fertilizer regimen, 2) watch your water, 3) realize that this is not a bermudagrass.  If you are open to these things then you will be a successful paspalum manager and in turn you will spend half the maintenance time on your lawn that someone with bermudagrass will. 

I have spoken on the topic before that paspalums use 66% less nitrogen than other warm season grasses, and therefore you can slash your fertilizer budget if you can get the soil pH under control with judicious use of calcium and magnesium. 


Paspalum is a luxury consumer of magnesium which is the core molecule in chlorophyll.  Since your irrigation water generally does not have enough magnesium, it is good to apply a few applications during the year and it can be done with a foliar or granule. 

Now for that deep dark green color to be fully expressed in paspalum and bermudagrass you need to have a higher than normal calcium load.   It is best to have regularly scheduled calcium applications to make sure enough is available for root absorption at all times.  Some of the best ways to get calcium in the plant is through liquid products such as calcium nitrate, calcium chloride, chelated calcium.  After you make a foliar application you should expect to see results after 4-7 days when the calcium is absorbed by the root system.  If you make a granular application such as gypsum or lime it will take 3-4 weeks for this product to get down into the root system and will make it slower for you to see a reaction. 

Now if you are asking yourself when do you apply ammonium sulfate like you do on bermuda, the answer is never.  Since paspalum uses so much less nitrogen than bermudgarass a fast release nitrogen source will cause excess turgor pressure in the leaf which will result in turf scalping.  Scalping paspalum is the number one “no no” and it can lead to problems down the road if it is done on a continual basis. 

Paspalum is a primarily a rhizomatous grass that sends all its energy to the root system when you scalp it resulting in a 6-8 week regeneration process. 

So how do you avoid scalping?  Keep your mowing heights to a manageable level and never cut more than 1/3rd of the leaf blade.  If you use less than 2 pounds of total nitrogen per 1000 SF per year, your grass will not get too much thatch resulting in mower scalping.  If you treat this grass like a bermudagrass and fertilize with high nitrogen sources monthly you will watch it wither away quickly.  As Dr. Duncan said, “Thou shall not scalp.”  If you remember nothing else from this today, keep that in the back of your head.

Most of you with paspalum have emailed me asking for instructions on overseeding paspalum and I posted several ways of doing it a few weeks ago but to recap quickly here are the basics:

1)      Use longer irrigation cycles; less frequently during grow in so you maintain healthy rhizomes.

2)      Never cut a rhizome with the verticut and when verticutting is done the grass should be lightly ticked and opened up.  Do not get aggressive with the turf.

3)      Do not scalp down the grass like you would with bermudagrass.  Let the turf grow up slightly a couple weeks before overseed and then gradually mow it down to an acceptable level.

4)      If you need to slow down the growth of paspalum use a growth regulator such as primo.  This can be used on bermudagrass as well to help stop fall competition.

5)      Spread seed at 10 pounds per 1000 SF and for optimal seeding spread 5 pounds per 1000 SF 2x during a two week span.  For example seed 5 pounds per 1000 SF on October 1st and 5 pounds per 1000 SF again on October 15th

6)      Your fertility should be a starter fertilizer such as 6-20-20 and then mainly liquid calcium sources such as calcium nitrate until we receive a few hard frosts and the paspalum goes completely dormant.  It is okay to use organic granules such as soil burst, milorganite, or a palm tree fertilizer.  Keep your nitrogen applications very low until the paspalum is completely dormant and you start growing ryegrass.

Watering paspalum has always been a topic of debate and studies have concluded that just like all warm season grasses it is better to use longer, infrequent applications of water versus watering daily.  Overwatering your lawn leads to several problems including disease, insect issues, and is the biggest contributor to lawn decline.  It is always best to water your lawn first thing in the morning around 4-6am so that the leaf blades have a chance to dry out during the day and so you can reduce any potential disease attacks on your lawn.  During the winter months when people with paspalum have decided to let their turf go dormant it is only necessary to water once every 3 weeks with about an inch of water.  In general we will get timely rains throughout the winter and you will most likely be able to keep your irrigation system off until February.  Don’t count on Mother Nature, but use her and save water when you can.

I have talked about weed control in paspalum turf and there are obviously herbicides out there to do the job, but you probably never thought that rock salt would kill your broadleaf’s and not harm your lawn.  Since paspalums are extremely salt tolerant and can handle more sodium than any other warm season turfgrass you can take granular salt and cover the leaf surface.  You don’t want to water in the salt but instead let it sit on the leaf till morning when the dew appears, and it will slowly dissolve the salt killing the weed below. 

I hope many of you are starting to see that changes are coming to the turf industry and as is the case in all fields we are “going green.”  Grass selection and knowledge is power when it comes to growing any grass and Platinum and Sea Spray Paspalum are no different.  Save yourself money, time, water, and fertilizer by using a green product.  Check out the website for more information on Platinum TE and Sea Spray paspalum.  Mention this blog and receive 10 percent off your first Platinum or Sea Spray order from West coast Turf/Western Sod (*up to 5000 sq. ft).

Have you signed up for West Coast Turf’s Facebook and Twitter pages yet?  We offer great deals, updates, and information that are going on in the turf industry.  Log on today and check out the pictures of the new Diamondbacks/Rockies spring training facility being sodded here in Scottsdale, Arizona. and



College Football Week 11 

I am not exactly sure what to say about my picks last week except that I guess Vegas is always right and the guy that writes about grass should just pick games without the spread.  Well that is not going to happen because what fun would it be to just pick winners, I need a challenge. 

Last week was a great week in college football and we started to see how a season wears on the players as they continue to play week after week.  There were not any lop sided victories besides the debacle in Wisconsin where Indiana allowed them to score 83 points.  I understand how it happens but you are playing Wisconsin, a team that just runs the ball 60 times a game and tries to just milk the clock.  Now I don’t think my Wolverines can beat the Badgers straight up on the field this week, but I will guarantee they don’t lose by 63.  I realize with Michigan’s defense that anything is possible and 83 doesn’t seem out of reach; I do know that the offense will score at least 60 in that situation.  I actually look for this to be a lower scoring game by Michigan standards with the Badgers edging the Wolverines 35-31.  Is it bad that I have now started rooting for them to lose their last two games so they can remain in the driver’s seat for the Insight Bowl in Tempe?  There realistically isn’t much to worry about since the last two games are Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Moving around the rest of college football quickly I would have to say I was surprised to see Oregon come out so flat versus California, and I was also shocked by how well Cam Newton played with all the allegations hanging over his head.  Maybe money does buy happiness but he only got $180K, allegedly.  Not exactly Reggie Bush money but apparently enough to get him enrolled at Auburn. 

ASU had another heartbreaker versus Stanford and their season is now over and the only thing they can play for is to try and keep lame duck coach Dennis Erikson’s job.  Somehow I don’t this is a large motivating thing for this team. 

Down in Tucson they are feeling the pain again of not being able to beat the Trojans and this lost may have moved them back to a late December Bowl game.  It is time for Stoops to get this team to play motivated and consistent so they can increase their chances of playing on New Year’s Day. 

If you are from Utah you are just flat out embarrassed from your last two games of football and how bad does it taste to get spanked by Notre Dame.  This is a Notre dame team without a QB or anyone with offensive talent for that matter, and the defense would probably start Rudy Ruddiger if they could bring him out of movie folklore. 

The top ten remains pretty consistent, but that Utah loss sure did hurt TCU’s chances of getting into the National Championship game should Auburn fail to win the Iron Bowl.  I think a one loss team will still get in ahead of Boise State or TCU, but now their argument for being a great team has gone out the window with the Notre Dame pasting of Utah (their only good win on their schedule).

 Here are my picks of the week and with last week’s totals my current record for the season is 20-11, not bad for a guy that went to school for turfgrass.

Wisconsin -7 @ Michigan – I think the big guys on the line are too much for UM’s defense but Michigan will keep it close losing 35-31.  Take Michigan and the points at the Big House.

Stanford -8 @ California – Who knows what California team will show up Saturday but what I do know is that Andrew luck is the best college QB and I think he rolls through this defense and gives them fits.  Stanford covers winning 42-21.

Ohio State -3.5 @ Iowa – I don’t think the pink locker rooms at Iowa are enough to stop a determined Terrell Pryor but don’t be surprised if he is looking more towards next week’s match up versus Michigan.  I think this is a close game and OSU wins by a field goal 31-38.  Take the Hawkeyes and the 3.5

Nebraska – 2.5 @ Texas A & M –   Will Martinez play and will he play well is the question.  With a poor showing last week versus the Jayhawks I think Bo Pellini will have fired up the black shirts and they win by two touchdowns over the Aggies.  I like Nebraska 30-17.

USC -3 @ Oregon State – How are the only favored by 3.  This is a terrible Oregon State team that has been decimated by injuries and really is just not that good of a team.  Look for USC to run the ball all game and win by 10.  I like USC 38-28.

Ultra Run #3 Results

Last week was the Usery Pass 50K mountain run.  I went into this race having only run this track one time the week before and I was pretty nervous about where I would be compared to the rest of the field.  Coming off the recent win in Cave Creek it felt like I was a target by some of the other runners even if they had no idea who I was.  I tend to make myself a little anxious before any event and running is definitely no different.  I didn’t go out to win this race but instead I was looking to get a good time and try to keep my standings high in the Ultra Trail point totals.  The track consisted of 9 miles of flat trails and 7.1 miles of mountain terrain that we ran two times for a total of 32.3 miles. 

I was amazed by how good this race felt and I kept my speed very consistent throughout the race to make sure I had enough energy when it came to the mountains on the last 7 miles.  I was running a great race in my head and my time was excellent by all accounts, but I could not muster up the energy to get out of third place until mile 25 when I finally was able to move into second. 

The mountains are my strong area and I knew the guys that went out fast in the flats would be in trouble at this point but that only put me in second.  In my mind I had 7 miles to catch the guy in first place and I was running the race of my life.  I was over an hour ahead of my previous best 50K run from Cave Creek in which I ran the race.  I figured it would only be a matter of time before I caught the first place runner but he was just too fast when all was said and done and I finished strong but in second place. 

My time for this race was 4:58:09 over an hour and 7 minutes faster than my previous race.  I have to say that I am very happy with the time, but a win would have made it better.  I still lead the Ultra Trail Series point totals with a few races to go and if the body holds up I think I just may have a chance.  My next race could be the 50 Mile Fat Ox this weekend if I can wrap my mind around it or I will try for my first road marathon down in Tucson on December 12th.

Have a great weekend, and please feel free to e-mail me your questions or comments by hitting the “Ask Jay” button on the top right.

AND, be sure to watch West Coast Turf in action on Sunday 49ers VS Bucs and @ Qualcomm Stadium on Monday Night Football when the Chargers take on the Broncos!